And That Was The Fourth Time I Quit WoW
I have something to admit. Since the age of 15 (way back in 2004) I have been a frequent player of Blizzard’s flagship MMORPG World of Warcraft. From my days back on the “vanilla” version to playing through 4 different expansions over the years to come, World of Warcraft formed the back bone of my gaming life – and in a lot of ways is to blame (or celebrate?) for how much my current life revolves around reading about, writing about, talking about and playing video games.
That being said, like any good long-term relationship we’ve had a few squabbles over the years. I can’t always give it the time it needs and sometimes there are other games (and people) in my life which I have to prioritise. But sooner or later, I end up running back – whether it’s for a quick PuG (pick-up group) or a few full-blown months of raiding with one of the numerous guilds I’ve been a part of over the years.
In short, I’ve quit WoW 3 times before in my life – and I’m about to make it lucky number 4.
Why? Well, each time I’ve quit WoW there has been a different reason. Growing up essentially alongside it, my priorities have inevitably changed as my circumstances have – blooming from the young highschool student jeopardising his future to the unemployed university student... kind of jeopardising his future. So I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the previous reasons I quit WoW and see how that compares to my current reasoning.
What? That doesn’t sound like fun? Well I guess you should stop reading then, coz I’m doing it.
The first time I quit World of Warcraft was in late 2006. I had been raiding on a level 60 undead mage through AQ40 and preparing for Naxxramas while also completing my penultimate year of highschool. I remember just prior to quitting that I was starting to feel WoW-players fatigue (the lethargy you only get by playing World of Warcraft for 40 hour weeks over a 6 month period) and was thinking about taking a break. Coincidentally at this time I was offered (through a dodgy MSN conversation that I’ve never really puzzled out) a lump sum of in-game gold daily for a company in China to use my character to farm with. Being the rambunctious youth I was back then, I agreed and took a two week hiatus from WoW. I was driven back when people complained I had become more sullen and aggressive in my day-to-day life (the word “withdrawal” was brought up frequently) only to make a horrific discovery.
A few days after logging back in and wresting my account back from those gold-farming devils (not racist, I’m solely referring to their illegal account practices) – I found out I had been banned. Permanently. Two years work down the drain, I resolved to quit World of Warcraft forever.
That lasted about four months. When I started feeling the itch again the first expansion for World of Warcraft, The Burning Crusade, had been released – and I abandoned my noble promises and levelled a brand new character on a brand new account to get back in the game. I was back on the hook.
For a couple years everything worked out fine. I (barely) graduated high school and started attending University. I also had a long-time girlfriend at this point, and one stormy autumn day in 2008 I convinced her to play World of Warcraft with me. Little did I know this was the beginning of the end.
Let’s fast forward through the emotional junk. Suffice to say, by the time the next expansion came out at the end of 2008 we were both avid players spending most of the time we were together online in the game. And for awhile this worked out. Then disaster struck. We broke up. I later found out she had left me for another player in her guild, adding insult to injury, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is, heartbroken, I quit WoW for a second time – resolving never to return.
That lasted about a year.
Towards the end of Wrath of the Lich King I returned, and picked up more or less where I left off – I was even around to kill the Lich King successfully before the third expansion, Cataclysm, was released.
Cataclysm was a bit of an odd ball. Personally, I think it missed the ball on what an expansion needed to be. While Wrath and TBC had captured my imagination and made the world feel larger – Cataclysm felt gated, and I quickly found my interest waning. This would be the first time I ever quit WoW out of sheer boredom. I gave it a solid 3 months and moved on with my life.
And so it was until August of last year, when I was handed a Beta invite to the Mists of Pandaria expansion of WoW. ‘Sure’, I thought, ‘I can do this objectively without getting sucked back in and losing months of my life in the process’. How wrong I was.
Inspired by the beta, I purchased Mists of Pandaria on its release day in September and quickly was one of the highest ranked players (in terms of gear and progress) on my server. Thrilled, I set about maintaining this position – and when I looked up it was December and I had been playing 30 hours a week for the last two months. Nevertheless, I told myself I could keep it up, I just needed to cut down. Like any addict tries to tell themselves, I could stop whenever I wanted – I was just enjoying myself.
Finally, by the time March rolled around, I was faced with some harsh truths. Firstly, that due to my unpredictable living situation – playing WoW regularly was becoming harder and harder to maintain. Secondly, between my full-time job and my full-time girlfriend – I just didn’t have the time to spend 20 hours a week on one game, especially with 8 hours of that time locked in for specific hours (two 4 hour raids a week).
So, regretfully, but optimistically, in the first week of April, I have quit WoW again – maybe (but probably not) for the last time.
Over the years I’ve quit for many reasons: being hacked, being heartbroken and even sheer boredom. But for the first time I’m quitting not because of any lack of interest or desire to play on my part, but because as I get on in years I simply can’t devote the attention to the game which it requires to play at the level I’m comfortable with.
So like a big boy, I made my farewells to the guild, I placed a stop payment on my subscription to Blizzard – and day by day I’m moving on.
Chances are I’ll go back at some point; whether it’s because I’m unemployed, heartbroken (again) or just to check out a new expansion or two. But if there is a pattern here, it’s that as I’ve grown and matured alongside World of Warcraft – I’ve also grown apart from it. It’s a different game to the one which enthralled me in my youth, but mainly I am a different person to the kid who spent school nights raiding Molten Core.
This will be the fourth time I’ve quit WoW – but for once, I have a real reason to do so. And that might make all the difference.